Saturday, September 13, 2014

Are you trying everything?

One of the reasons I love Linda McCullough Moore's short stories so much is the slightly askance view she takes on life which makes me laugh with the absurdity of it all. In her fifth story in her book of short stories, This Road Will Take Us Closer To The Moon, entitled Ball Doll she tells a story about a woman, Margaret, who goes home to visit her elderly mother who has had a stroke and her Aunt Mary.

Moore opens her story with these lines,

"I feel like I'm dying, but I'm not exactly breaking new ground here. Someone in my family is always dying. My father, who did die a dozen years ago, used to say, 'People are dying who never died before.' Tonight, it's Aunt Mary, well technically, my sister Eileen's husband Tom's Aunt Mary, but close enough for our purposes."

I had to laugh at her opening paragraph. At age 68 I've seen many people die, my parents, two of my children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, acquaintances, it seems never ending. Somebody is always dying. And it puzzles me that dying, being a normal regular part, of life is treated as if it was tragically abnormal. In our contemporary society in the United States, it seems that people aren't supposed to die and when they do something has gone terribly wrong.

"Aunt Mary's legs are swollen up like two balloons," Eileen's voice is schoolmarm taut. "She couldn't catch her breath, and when we took her to the E.R., they gave her morphine right away, and six different kinds of medicine, and I said to the doctor, 'Does this mean you're trying everything?' and he said, 'Yes.'"
The Aunt Mary in question is 97.
She looks older.

There is a lot more to this story that I am not going to go into now and I recommend it to you.

Questions for consideration, journaling, and possible discussion.

  1.  What has been your experience with death over the course of  your life and more recently?
  2.  To what extent do you think that our society has inappropriate attitudes about death?
  3.  What are your thoughts about Eileen's attitude about Aunt Mary getting "everything" at the      end of her life at age 97?

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